Pitch Report: St George’s Park
Ends: Duckpond End, Park Drive End
Home Team: Warriors and Eastern Province
Test History: 28 Tests (12 Home wins, 5 Draws, 11 home losses)
Port Elizabeth’s St George’s Park staged the first Test to be played outside England or Australia in 1888-89 (England winning by eight wickets) and in 1969-70 hosted the final Test before South Africa’s 21-year isolation.
It also staged South Africa’s first rugby international, also against England, in 1891. In 1896 it witnessed one of Test cricket’s most remarkable games. England’s George Lohmann took 7 for 38 in South Africa’s first innings and then 8 for 7 in their second as they were bowled out for 30.
Situated within sight of the ocean, the ground became famous for the enthusiastic band that plays during Tests. But ahead of the 2003 World Cup they were banned from playing inside the ground, amid safety concerns, and have only made sporadic appearances since.
The ground has brought mixed fortunes for the South African side. In 1992 they secured a superb win by 9 wickets, Allan Donald claimed 12 for 139, on a pitch that many had said favoured spin bowling and was a fast bowler’s nightmare. But in 1997 they lost to Australia by two wickets, after leading by 101 runs on the first innings, as Mark Waugh played one his most valuable Test innings.
The ground famously hosted the first day/night Test on South African soil in December 2017.
Located near the city centre, St George’s Park is easily accessible by public transport, car or on foot, and, as with other South African grounds is still a blend of open space and covered seating.
Last Time Out
Zimbabwe found the pink ball to be unplayable under lights and South Africa’s 309/9 declared was enough to earn them an innings and 120 run victory.
Aiden Markram was the only centurion in the match while Morne Morkel and Keshav Maharaj bagged five wicket hauls in Zimbabwe’s first and second innings respectively.
Happy Hunting Ground
Dean Elgar (451), AB de Villiers (437), Faf du Plessis (423) and Hashim Amla (401) are all within fifty runs of each other at a venue that has seen mixed fortunes for each batsman.
Morne Morkel (16) and Vernon Philander (14) top the wicket-taking list should Dale Steyn (21) not be fit enough to play in Port Elizabeth.
Groundsman Adrian Carter expects the pitch to play a little slow and recommends batting first: “Usually at St George’s, the side that wins the toss bats first.”
St George’s is traditionally slower than the other Test grounds in South Africa but the groundsman would have worked hard to ensure that the pitch doesn’t turn too much.
Port Elizabeth pitch. The experts say it might be two paced. But if grass. Won’t be quick. pic.twitter.com/1h5ATBaBOp
— Peter Lalor (@plalor) March 8, 2018
It would be surprising if the team that wins the toss doesn’t bat first with the bowlers set to come into the game more as the test wears on.
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